Amazon.com just announced an agreement to pay $775 million in cash to acquire Kiva Systems Inc., a maker of automation technology for fulfillment centers. Kiva makes robotic vehicles that zip around warehouses to deliver packages and other materials to workers, controlled by smart software designed to make distribution centers run more efficiently.
Customers of Kiva include drugstore.com, Gilt Group, Dansko, Gap, Toys R Us, Office Depot, Walgreen’s, GAP and Staples, in addition to Amazon-owned Quidsi, the company behind Diapers.com.
We’ve asked what will happen to those existing customer relationships after the deal closes, particularly in cases where Amazon may compete with an existing Kiva customer.
Update: An Amazon spokeswoman says Kiva customers “will continue to receive service and support after the transaction.”
“Amazon has long used automation in its fulfillment centers, and Kiva’s technology is another way to improve productivity by bringing the products directly to employees to pick, pack and stow,” said Dave Clark, Amazon’s vice president of global customer fulfillment, in a news release. “Kiva shares our passion for invention, and we look forward to supporting their continued growth.”
Amazon’s Jeff Bezos is separately an investor in Heartland Robotics, a Massachusetts company created by iRobot co-founder Rodney Brooks that aims to build the “next-generation of industrial robots.”
The companies say Kiva will remain based in North Reading, Mass., after the deal closes. Here’s a CNN piece with more background on Kiva.